The Million Acre Challenge helps Maryland farmers build soil health, increase farm profitability, and improve water quality – while making farms resilient and active in the face of climate change. Our farmer-focused collaborative uses soil health science, economics, education, and incentives to achieve our mission: To grow one million acres of healthy soils in Maryland by 2030.
In Year One, we built a solid foundation with farmers, consumers, service providers, and funders to share resources and spur action. In 2020, the Million Acre Challenge:
- Engaged 30 Maryland farmers managing 4,000 acres in the Pasa farming Soil Health Benchmark Study
- Convened our Business Case working group including Extension economists, farmers, and consultants to conduct and analyze research on the profitability of regenerative agriculture
- Engaged over 150 farmers in soil health programming and peer-to-peer learning events
- Positioned the coalition to advocate for farmer-driven statewide regenerative agriculture policy
Our vision is enhanced soil and ecosystem health and increased farm profitability on at least one million agricultural acres in Maryland, with significant progress and partnerships in the Chesapeake region, by 2030.
JOURNEY TO SOIL HEALTH… WITH NAZIRAHK AMEN, PURPLE MOUNTAIN ORGANICS
Born and raised in rural Louisiana, where his family grew produce and practiced animal husbandry on their land, Nazirahk began his professional career as an EMT and a medic in New Orleans. He later moved to Seattle to pursue a degree in alternative medicine and became a licensed naturopathic doctor and acupuncturist in Maryland.
Journey to Soil Health… with Emma Jagoz, Moon Valley Farm
Growing a few vegetables on an apartment balcony might be a hobby for some people — but for Emma Jagoz, it was the first step down a path that would change her life. She decided to grow some arugula after she read it could boost a baby’s brain development. She was pregnant with her first child, and figured it was worth a try.
Journey to Soil Health… with Ron Holter, Holterholm Farms
For fifth-generation dairy farmer Ron Holter, change comes from the inside out and from the ground up. When he took over his father and uncle’s 250-acre farm in Jefferson, Maryland, they were a conventional Holstein dairy, housing their cows in large buildings and feeding them grain grown on the rest of the land.
How It Works
Core Team: Members of our six founding partners steer the project, leveraging rich input from external partners and resource providers to ensure progress toward healthier soil throughout the state.
Working Groups: Cohorts of issue area experts deliver focused, strategic work products to promote regenerative production through five discrete areas of influence – Business Case, Farmer Engagement, Policy, Public Outreach, and Science.
Board of Soil Stewards (BOSS): Farmer advisors from across the state, representing a variety of production methods and farm sizes, apply deep knowledge and experience to ensure soil health resources are practical, effective, and successful.
Partners: Nonprofit organizations, government entities, and farm service providers from across the state and the region with aligned goals work alongside us to ensure farmers can access tools, resources, and information to make sustained changes on their farms.